“We move in the direction of the questions we ask” – I love this quote from Margaret J. Wheatley. It perfectly describes the subtle ways in which we shape our lives, sometimes without even realising it.
Here are six questions that led me to start training as a yoga teacher – questions I’ve asked of myself, questions others have asked of me, and questions I’ve asked other people.
- Are you a yoga teacher?
The first time the thought of becoming a yoga teacher crossed my mind was about 7 years ago (yes, it’s been a long process!), when a friend invited me to her local class. The rest of the group were clearly familiar with the teacher’s style, instructions and postures, while I struggled through the transition from bound side angle to bird of paradise pose for the very first time!
At the end of the class, the teacher approached me and asked, “Are you a yoga teacher?” My friend decided he was flirting, I prefer to think that he was blown away by my alignment – either way, in my surprise, I laughed it off and didn’t think about it again. But it planted a tiny seed that created the conditions to explore some other questions…
- How did you do it?
A few years later I started going to a yoga class with a newly qualified teacher. As I asked her about her yoga journey and heard about her move from an office job to yoga teaching, the idea of training as a teacher myself shifted from something laughable to a possibility for some point in my life. I did a little research around the process and financial side of training and teaching, then filed it all away in my brain in a folder marked “future”.
- What gives you energy?
Soon after, at a pivotal point in my career, I received some mentoring via the Aspire Foundation. One of the most important questions my mentor asked me was “what gives you energy?” This got me thinking about what I most enjoy doing and led me to a career in social research, which I love. I get to explore the issues that matter to people and it appeals to my geeky nature by letting me organise, analyse, and write to my heart’s content.
At the time, yoga didn’t come into the mix but that question is one I kept coming back to. Yoga had become an integral part of my wellbeing – so as the question of what gives me energy moved around my mind it laid the foundation for the next questions to emerge.
- What advice would you give me if…?
Early this year, a chance encounter shifted yoga teaching out of the future realm and into the present. Through a colleague, I met someone in a similar field of work who had combined her career with yoga teaching and I asked her if she’d be willing to talk me through her experience.
Although I kept adding “it’s just something I’m considering for the future”, simply asking those first direct questions allowed the idea to take on a life of its own. She gave me some great insights and advice to help me think about whether it was the right time for teacher training and, if so, how to choose a training course.
- Who inspires you?
It’s striking how quickly my decisions moved on from there. A couple of months later a friend-of-a-friend completed her training, and her contagious enthusiasm was the final prompt I needed to commit to the decision to train as a yoga teacher.
Finding a tutor who inspired me was one piece of advice I had received earlier in the year. So I started thinking about the style of yoga I was most attuned to, and the teachers who had most influenced me, before deciding where to train. And I’m glad that I took the advice on board rather than rushing into a decision based on the first few courses I came across.
6. What do I need to learn about myself?
Joining a course of yoga therapy for the mind showed me I was ready to take the step into teacher training. It strengthened my commitment to a regular practice at home, taught me a lot about myself, gave me energy (there’s the answer to question 3!) and ignited my curiosity about the science, theory, and philosophy of yoga. It reminded me how much I have to learn but also showed me I was open to the learning.
I also recognised that I kept gravitating towards the therapeutic side of yoga. As a result I finally decided to apply to train with Teach Yoga under Elena Voyce to continue my yoga journey and keep learning about the power of yoga to strengthen and heal.
Although it seems obvious now, as each of these questions took place over a long period of time, it wasn’t always clear how they were connected. Looking back, I can see they slowly laid out the path I took to get here. My training starts tomorrow and will surely prompt many other questions – who knows what direction they will take me?
If we listen closely, the questions we are moved to ask can tell us where we want to get to. And if we already know where we want to get to, asking questions of ourselves and others can help steer the course. So keep asking, keep meandering, and stay open to the direction your questions might lead.